Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown set the tone on the opening series while the Tigers’ quick-strike offense scored seven touchdowns in No. 11 Auburn’s 51-10 SEC West victory at Arkansas.
“Extremely happy for our players,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Our guys came out ready to play right off the bat. Our defense played outstanding. Offensively, got off to a good start.”
Arkansas won the toss and elected to receive, hoping to gain early momentum. Instead, it was Auburn’s defense making a statement from the get-go.
On the second play, the 320-pound Brown ran down Razorbacks running back Rakeem Boyd for no gain. On the next play, Davidson sacked quarterback Ben Hicks, forcing and recovering a fumble at the Arkansas 22-yard line.
“That was the most fun game I’ve had in a long time,” Davidson said. “I felt good about that game.”
“We just bounce off each other,” Brown said. “We want to see everybody makes plays.”
Two Bo Nix passes to Anthony Schwartz gained 18 yards, then Nix kept for a 4-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 Auburn lead with 12:38 left in the first quarter.
After Auburn’s defense forced a three-and-out, Kam Martin began another three-play touchdown drive by racing down the right sideline 52 yards to the Razorbacks’ 11-yard-line.
Shaun Shivers’ 6-yard TD run put Auburn ahead 14-0 fewer than five minutes into the game.
Auburn made it 17-0 with 51 seconds left in the first quarter on Anders Carlson’s 44-yard field goal, capping a 13-play, 55-yard drive.
Davidson recorded his second sack on third-and-8 early in the second quarter. On the next play, Chandler Wooten made his first career interception on Arkansas’ fake punt pass.
The Razorbacks kicked a 27-yard field goal after a 16-play, 77-yard drive that consumed half of the third quarter to make it 17-3.
Auburn answered quickly, scoring 14 points in 22 seconds, with Nix hitting Seth Williams for a 48-yard touchdown pass at the 4:10 mark of the third quarter.
Carlson’s extra point was Auburn’s 303rd consecutive PAT, an NCAA record streak that started in 2013.
“It’s the biggest blessing to be a small part of a big thing,” Carlson said. “Going back to Cody [Parkey] and then Daniel [Carlson], all of their long snappers, all their holders. Auburn prides itself on consistency. We specialists do the same. We’re going to enjoy that.”
Javaris Davis’ diving interception immediately regained possession for Auburn, then after Schwartz gained 28 yards on a reverse, Nix and Schwartz combined for a 28-yard touchdown pass and 31-3 Auburn lead.
Arkansas scored its only touchdown on a 45-yard pass after recovering a fumble, trimming Auburn’s lead to 31-10 after three quarters.
Nix and Williams hooked up for their second touchdown of the game and seventh TD of the season to put Auburn on top 37-10. After 304 consecutive PATS, Auburn missed the extra-point try.
“They open up both side of the field,” said Nix of Williams and Schwartz, who combined for 193 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. “You can’t double both of them, so you’re going to get a one-on-one between the two. You’ve just got to find it and hit them.”
Joey Gatewood relieved Nix and completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jay Jay Wilson, the graduate transfer’s first Auburn TD.
Harold Joiner capped the scoring with a 32-yard touchdown run.
“Our guys were hungry and they put the game away in the second half,” Malzahn said.